The Unmemorable. The Individual and His Multiple Identities
Original title: L’immemorabile. Il soggetto e i suoi doppi
Vienna 1825. A weak and indolent teenager is the talk of the town. In broad daylight, he falls into a deep sleep and changes personality. While sleeping, he reads, writes, plays cards, challenges the doctors for fun and performs the most surprising exercises with his eyes closed. It seems that a new person has appeared in his place, or a second “I” has now replaced the first.
Cavalletti meticulously observes the disturbing appearances of this second “I” throughout the psychology and literature of the last two centuries. In a scenario dominated by amnesia and sleepwalking, hallucinations and daydreams, the bourgeois individual, whose identity seemed so firm, reveals himself tormented by masks that defy every control, caught up in a doubling that can’t be reassembled.
In the cases studied carefully by Henri Bergson as well as Théophile Gautiert’s visions under the effect of hashish, identified by Poe in nightmares or overturned by Döblin in comic parodies, personalities multiply and fight each other, and even life and death swap sides. In the end, Western identity turns out to be reserved and fundamentally double, living only in its weaknesses and lapses of memory, in its losses and distractions. Unmemorable and thus unforgettable.